Gastronomic Gift: Hazelnut Melting Moments, Times Two

hazelnutchoccookieplate

Whew!  Well, it took me a little longer to get to this post than anticipated.  But I’m happy to report that my stack of exams has all been marked, the final grades submitted, and all that remains of this semester are a few meetings next week.  And then: par-tay!

Come to think of it, I already hosted my first party this season (except that makes it sound as if there will be more than one, doesn’t it?), a pot luck dinner a for some friends from nutrition school. Though only two of us are vegan, everyone brought along a vegan dish. Aren’t they an amazing, open-minded crowd?  This year, in fact, almost everyone managed an ACD-friendly dish as well, so I was able to partake of almost everything.  Here’s what we feasted upon:

Appetizers:

Sides:

  • Tossed baby greens with dried organic cherries
  • Cous Cous salad with olives and veggies
  • Greek Lemon-Roasted Potatoes (a fabulous, ultra-easy recipe that I will post about anon!)

Mains:

Desserts:

  • Chocolate Macaroons
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  • Marble Cake
  • Hazelnut Melting Moments cookies

Herbal tea, Perrier, red wine

These Hazelnut Melting Moments (one of my contributions, and one of the foods I couldn’t eat, ironically) are my remake of a confection I used to serve all the time at dinner parties.  They speak of the holidays to me, so I figured I’d whip up a batch (well, if you heard cookies talking, could you say “no” to them?  Lucky for me I don’t hear dead people).

Way back in my 30s, I lived in a basement apartment. Of all the places I’ve lived as an adult (with the exception of the wee postwar bungalow I owned when I first met the HH), that apartment was my favorite.  Why, you ask?  Well, you know what they say: “location, location, location.”

hazelnutchoccookies

You see, the place was situated on the venerable Heath Street in Toronto, just a hop, skip and condominium or two from the St. Clair subway and in the tony Forest Hill area of town.  The building itself was a renovated Victorian mansion; our landlady had gone to some trouble to furnish the upper three flats with marble bathroom tiles, hardwood floors, stylish light fixtures and even reverse-osmosis water filtration systems in the kitchens.

My place, on the other hand, hadn’t been upgraded a whit; it was, simply, a basement apartment, much like any other (except in the basement of a lovely old mansion in a wealthy area of town, of course). Perhaps my landlady assumed people in that part of the city wouldn’t lower themselves–no pun intended–to live in subterranean digs; whatever the reason, I couldn’t believe how affordable the place was, and leapt at the chance to move in.

It may have been a basement, with peephole-sized windows that framed pedestrians’ footwear as they trod by above; it may have been a haven for a constant procession of bugs, spiders and even the errant mouse on occasion (I’m sure you must have heard me shriek when I first spied that little rodent taking a stroll through my living room); it may have housed the furnace for the entire building in my coat closet (the other tenants regularly knocked on my door at all hours of the day or night to ask me to turn up the heat); but I loved it.  It was clean, it was roomy, and it was warm (courtesy of aforementioned furnace).

And it was the setting for many a dinner party.

These days, one event a year seems like plenty; but back then–what I now consider “The Year of Living Sociably”–I’d use any excuse to entertain. Your birthday? Let me throw you a party! Got a promotion? I’ll cook dinner for you and four friends!  Just adopted a daughter from China?  Let’s have the entire group who flew over from Canada to my place!

It was my first apartment on my own after I got divorced from the Starter Husband, and I took every opportunity to socialize.  I even held my divorce ceremony and subsequent “I’m Free!” reception there. And I hosted a “I think I’m in love” bash when the HH and I finally got together.

Like a regular guest, these Hazelnut Melting Moments made an appearance at almost every gathering (though they never stuck around to the end of the soirée).  Partway between a shortbread and a chocolate chip cookie, they are slightly sandy, buttery, with a hint of citrus.  Topped with a melty pool of chocolate that oozes and dribbles on your chin if you eat them while still warm (not that I’d have any experience with such things), they’re an indulgent treat for the season. My newfangled version, either gluten-free or not, as you like, was every bit as delicious as the original (luckily, my guests ate them all, so I wasn’t tempted).

The cookies keep well, and would make a wonderful holiday gift. Something, say, to bring along to a party.

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Last Year at this Time: Gastronomic Gifts IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers

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Comments

  1. Congratulations on finishing all those exams!! I just survived finals week here as well ;)

    Great treats, as always!

  2. hooray for dinner party success, Ricki! that’s so awesome that everyone brought a vegan dish, too. you have some open-minded friends, indeed. i’m excited i got your ebook so that i can make the nut roast, and your menu just reminded me that i haven’t had collard wraps in forever.

    you talk’n about your first place made me miss mine. basement apartments are too much fun. there was a boy i liked my second year of college who had a basement apartment; it was always also very spacious, and yet so cozy – i loved it! that’s too funny that people would knock on your door to ask ya to turn up the furnace.

    your hazelnut melting moments look wonderful – and they sound soooooo delightful. i have some sucanat in my pantry from when i made your maple flax cookies, and i shall bring it out again to make these. now i just need to finish up my pantry challenge so i can get us some hazelnuts (and i need some brazil nuts, come to think of it too). yay! sandy, buttery, and a tad citrusy – mmmmmm!

  3. Wishing I was done all exams too. :(
    I love the sound of that basement apartment, sounds like someplace I would love to live in sometime in the future (well, maybe sans some of the friendly visitors)
    The cookies look fabulous as well, these are on my list for cookie gifts to be distributed next week. Can’t wait to try them out!
    -K

  4. Great back-story – your “lower level” apartment sounds divine. And having all the tenants knocking at your door means you got to meet everyone who lived there.

    The cookies are so cute. I love the little pool of melted chocolate on each one.

  5. Oh my goodness, those cookies look and sound absolutely fabulous! The hazelnut-chocolate combination never fails. I definitely must try these soon.

  6. Those look amazing! (says the “other” Tiffany) I think they may be what Buckeyes are like, though I’ve never had one. We’ve just had a big hazelnut recall out of Oregon, but I think I can make it through the holidays and make these on a nice spring day. Yum!

  7. Great story about the basement apartment. It made me smile to imagine it.

    Hazelnut and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I was addicted to Baci by Perugina chocolates until a few years ago. We even stopped in Perugia on our honeymoon so I can see if we could get a factory tour. Can you say “it was time to put down the baci and walk away?”. I had to go cold turkey. It was rough.

    Congrats on finishing the exams. Enjoy your holiday.

    Alicia

  8. I love the sound of these little treats! They look like bites of heaven Ricki =D. I love the story!

  9. WOW. Just WOW. Those look incredible…..I really need to make these because they sounds just perfect! Thank you so much for ANOTHER amazing recipe!

  10. sounds like a great apartment and even though dinner parties don’t seem as regular, it is wonderful that you are still holding them – I miss the days when I would cook dinner for friends more regularly than I do now – sounds like some feast you had – great way to finish marking exams

  11. Congrats on the exams and those look divine!

  12. those look awesome!

  13. Those cookies sound so great! They indeed look like the perfect gastronomic gift!

  14. Your holiday potluck dinner sounded lovely. It’s so nice that everyone brought vegan dishes!

    Your cookies look terrific, as always!

  15. I have to agree, location means so much! We have similar fond memories of living in downtown Vancouver.

    Those cookies look scrumptious! Hopefully they will be on your “do eat” list soon :)

  16. Veggie Girl,
    Thanks–and best to you re: exams, too! :)

    jessy,
    Well, holistic nutritionists do tend to be open-minded around food! ;) And basement apts can be great, can’t they? Glad you like the cookies, too! :)

    K,
    Well, they’ll be done by the end of the month, right? Hope they’re a breeze for you :)

    Andrea,
    Yes, I did get to know the other 3 tenants pretty well–that’s a whole other story (one of them ended up married to the heir of the richest man in Canada–!!). And I agree–the chocolate puddle is the best part. ;)

    Tiffany,
    Hazelnut-chocolate is one of my favorites, too. Add lemon, and it’s a winner. :)

    Tiffany S,
    (now what are the chances of 2 Tiffany comments in a row?!)–I hadn’t heard about the hazelnut recall–or of Buckeyes. Maybe better for a spring day!

    Alicia,
    I’ve had those Bacis but must say they didn’t call to me the way Lindt truffle balls did. . .but hey, any chocolate is good chocolate! Glad you managed to get past it :)

    Voracious Vegan,
    Thanks! Hope you enjoy them, too. :)

    Johanna,
    It was sort of like the start of the celebrating–very glad to be done w/ those exams!

    Lori,
    Thanks so much!

    Cheryl,
    Thanks! Hope you can enjoy a variation of them. :)

    Josiane,
    Thanks so much! Hope your recipients enjoy them too if you do make them.

    Kiersten,
    Yep, they’re a pretty great gang of women! And glad you like the cookies. :)

    Alisa,
    I’m hoping they’ll make the list soon, too. *sigh*

  17. Yeah! Rita is here with me for the holidays. We are shopping this afternoon for hazlenuts. I haven’t ever seen any in stores around here but Bob’s Red Mill has hazlenut flour and I may check that out as a substitute. We also have plans for some of those bluberry muffins you recently posted! You really know how to festive-up the holidays with nutritious treats.

  18. short-lived guests like these are some of the best party-goers :) i’ll have to add it to my to-try list!

  19. A cookie with nutritional yeast, how interesting! I like the way you think. ;)

  20. These look absolutely amazing! And I love that you threw a bash whenever the opportunity arose. I lived in a house like that once and I miss it dearly–I hope the opportunity arises again soon!

  21. Sounds like an amazing dinner party! These cookies are so cute.

  22. Ricki,
    I know this post was some from time ago, but *I* just found it. :) Quick question: are the hazelnuts supposed to be measured first THEN ground or ground and then measured? I’m guessing the former but the way it was worded I couldn’t tell. . .
    Also, how do you get coconut oil soft but not melted at room temp in the winter? It’s 68 degrees here, but, my oil is SOLID. I have some ideas but was wondering if you had any tried and true methods.
    My boyfriend will love you FOREVER for these — he’s a hazelnut, chocolate loving boy. :) Together, they’re nirvana for him.

    • Hi Liz,
      Standard recipe convention says that “1 cup ground hazelnuts” means you grind first, then measure, but “1 cup hazelnuts, ground” means you measure first, then grind. So I ground the nuts, then measured ;)

      To soften my oil, I put it in a bowl on top of the stove when the oven is on (but the burners aren’t). That’s warm enough to soften it. If you use a microwave, you could do that, too. :)

  23. Thank you so much for this recipe!! Just made my first batch … will be making many more! :-D YUM!

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  1. [...] not tried the recipe for which it is intended. That would be another of Ricki’s fabulous recipes, Hazelnut Melting Moments.    Teff flour is another recent acquisition and I intend to use it in bread recipes. If you [...]

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